4 Things New CEO Satya Natella Should Consider to Get Microsoft on the Right Track

Recently, Microsoft announced Satya Natella as the third CEO in the company’s 38-year history, marking a new era for the American software giant. Although Natella inherits a company boasting north of $40 billion in revenue over the last six months of 2013,  Microsoft’s influence in the post-PC world is waning, especially when it comes to tablets and smartphones. So what can Microsoft do to rebound in 2014?

Microsoft-to-Announce-New-CEO-This-Week-Rumors
Microsoft CEO Satya Natella

Four Things Microsoft’s New CEO Needs to Consider

windows apple

Stop trying to create an Apple-killer

The single biggest problem hampering Microsoft right now is that it’s no longer an innovative company: it’s a company stuck playing catch up to Apple and Google in just about every category. Sure, Windows-based laptops still sell a ton but when it comes to tablets and smartphones, Microsoft’s Surface tablets and Windows Phone offerings haven’t caught on with consumers, even with the revamped Surface 2 and their line of Windows-branded Nokia smartphones.

There are certainly things Microsoft can take notes from with Apple and Google – one of those things is creating public buzz. Part of the allure of iOS and Android products is the anticipation these companies create with consumers, “leaking” exciting new features and mind-blowing advances in internal technology to get the public drooling. Of course, this is one of Microsoft’s biggest problems: neither its hardware nor software is impressing anyone anymore. Until they can figure out a way to draw consumers to products besides super-snazzy smartphone cameras and cool-looking keyboards, it’s going to be a rough tumble to the bottom.

surface 2

Pick a UI – and stick with it

When Microsoft launched Windows 8 and its Metro interface, it was a risky move for the company to try and align its desktop and mobile OS’s into one seamless experience. Except it didn’t work: the new aesthetics led to a major disconnect with its desktop devices and a touch-friendly OS that found itself running on mostly touch-less hardware. Yes, the Metro design has proved beneficial with Windows Phone (one cannot deny the functionality of live tiles) and the Xbox One. But when it came to its core audience, Microsoft was more confusing than revolutionary. It’s a problem they’ve only compounded with multiple desktop interfaces, the return of the Start button, and a number of other features that try and straddle the line between desktop and mobile without providing a coherent direction for the company. Given that, it’s no surprise Microsoft is already working on Windows 9 since Windows 8 was not the step forward they hoped it would be.

xbox one

Develop to Microsoft’s strengths, and vigorously 

Looking at Microsoft’s financial results from the end of 2013, two things become clear: Microsoft’s selling less Windows licenses and they’re selling more gaming systems, thanks to the release of the Xbox One in November. It appears Xbox is doing everything it can to promote the Xbox One from announcing exciting features and partnerships to creating television shows and entertainment enhancements. But the 2+ million people who bought the Xbox One are still waiting to see a lot of these new advancements come to light.

Right now, Microsoft’s biggest strengths are Microsoft Office (still a huge entity in the corporate world) and the Xbox. Instead of trying to make an iPad-killer, Microsoft should put an extreme focus on these two products. Continued integration of Office 365 with the cloud is a step in the right direction, as is Microsoft’s entertainment deals with CBS and the NFL for exclusive content on the Xbox One. But both Office 365 and the Xbox One are missing key features for enterprise users and gamers and until Microsoft can advance their new technologies and fulfill the promises they’ve already made (especially with Xbox One features), users are going to be hesitant to embrace the software giant once again.

bing

To Bing or Not to Bing

What is Microsoft doing with Bing? No, seriously. Although it’s one of the most-used search engines in the world, that title comes with a huge caveat: it lags far, far behind Google in every single category. Over the last couple years, Microsoft’s appeared to embrace Bing, providing revenue opportunities for advertisers, a clean, socially-connected interface for users, and a lot of commercials and Xbox integration to make it seem “cool”. But it hasn’t worked. Unless Microsoft wants Bing to fade out into obscurity (which some argue it already has), they need to find a tangible way to truly establish itself as a valid alternative to Google, not just another Microsoft product viewed as a knockoff of a more popular service.

Are You Lucky Enough to Win the BluePromoCode Xbox One Giveaway?


Interested in upgrading from your Xbox 360 to the Xbox One? BluePromoCode, a leading online marketplace for coupons and promo codes, is giving one away as we speak! The Xbox One giveaway started last week and ends tomorrow, Wednesday January 22 at 12PM PST.

As we’ve outlined in previous posts, the Xbox One is a powerful machine that is capable of running your entire living room via the Kinect 2. From online gaming to video streaming, this one does it all. Plus, exclusive titles like Halo and Fable give the Xbox One some added credentials. Add in the BluePromoCode Xbox One Giveaway is completely free and we’re sold!

So, enter today! They’re only giving one away and it ends soon. Entries can be earned by interacting with BluePromoCode on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter below. Enjoy!

CES 2014: Trends to Watch For

What’s a better way to ring in the new year than checking out the latest advancements in consumer technology? CES 2014 kicked off this week out in Las Vegas and already we’re starting to see tons of exciting new products and developing technologies that will make their way to the market in the next few years. Here’s what we’ve seen so far – and what trends we’re expecting to continue as the show continues throughout the week.

CES 2014: What We’re Expecting

smarthome

Smarthome technology

Although pretty televisions and cool gadgetry always rule the day at CES, there’s an interesting trend developing at this year’s show: the emergence of ‘smarthome’ technology as a viable revenue stream for tech-friendly companies, like LG and Samsung. But Samsung’s Smart Home App isn’t all we’re expecting to see at CES 2014. From security and energy management, to grocery shopping and organizing, there are a plethora of new products arriving at CES 2014 this year (like Goji’s ‘smart lock’ remote front door access) aiming to connect us to everything in our home, as well as outside of it.

Of course, there are also some new automated vacuums at CES 2014 – but unlike ten years ago, a cleaning robot isn’t quite the wonder of in-home tech it once was. For that, we’ve got to look elsewhere at CES. Already we’ve seen awesome products like the iBaby M6 baby monitor, MakerBot’s mini-3d printer, or Amped Wireless’ new WiFi extender, which can amplify a signal up to 5,000 square feet. And that’s not even getting into kitchen products. Already this week, Belkin debuted their new line of WeMo-compatible devices with a smartphone-controlled crock pot and LG announced a dishwasher that takes commands via text message.

lg tv

4K and Ultra HD

As more and more companies focus on Ultra HD development (simple translation: 4K) rather than 3D technology (in fact, Vizio announced yesterday they’re moving away from 3D altogether), 2014’s new televisions are going to be brighter, sharper – and in the case of some companies, a lot larger. We’ve already heard rumors about LG’s 110-inch Ultra HD television and announcements from companies like Sceptre and Vizio announcing their new, Ultra HD-ready product lines. With Samsung, Sony, and others still waiting in the wings, there’s plenty of big, beautiful new televisions being shown off all week on the CES 2014 floor.

intel smart watch

Wearable technology

Last year’s Pebble Watch and Google Glass were only the tip of the iceberg. 2014 is quickly turning into the Year of Wearable Tech, whether it’s coming from Samsung, Intel, or a host of other tech giants and start-ups looking to capitalize on the hottest mobile trend of the new year. Pebble’s already announced a $249 Steel Pebble Watch for the fancier types, XOne Google-Glass compatible safety googles, or something different like Lumo Lift, which vibrates when it notices its user practicing bad posture.

Smartwatches (can we bring back the word ‘swatch’ yet?) aren’t the only thing popping up at CES this year. There’s been a revival of fitness band technology thanks to the popularity of the Pebble Watch. Garmin, Movea, Basis, and Sony have already announced new fitness bands for 2014, all with increased functionality and available in multiple colors. Intel’s even taking it one step further, introducing a new line of ear buds that tracks runs and measures heart rates.

car tech

In-car technology

There aren’t just cool cars like Formula E’s electric race car being debuted at CES. Car and smartphone entities are both announcing big advances in technology inside of cars, like Hyundai’s second-generation Blue Link technology (connected to Verizon), BMW’s driver assistance technology, and Audi’s new partnership with AT&T to bring LTE into their cars across the United States. In other words, cool cars aren’t just getting faster and more efficient, they’re getting a lot ‘smarter’. And quickly.

What are you looking forward to most at CES 2014? Tell us your expectations and hopes in the comments below.

5 Reasons PlayStation Brand Loyalty is 2x as High As Xbox

WARNING: Microsoft Xbox fans, you may want to do some deep breathing before this one. A recent survey by BluePromoCode has once and for all put an end to the Xbox vs PlayStation debate. Well, at least an end to the question of who has the highest brand loyalty.

The survey, which questioned 155 console-owning Americans, accurately found that more US gamers currently own an Xbox 360 than a PlayStation 3. No surprises there. What is surprising is that current Xbox 360 owners were split 50/50 between purchasing an Xbox One and the PlayStation 4. PlayStation 3 owners however, were much more likely to stay with their brand. 93% of PlayStation gamers said they would be sticking with Sony and buying the PlayStation 4. Even gamers who currently own both gaming consoles were more likely to become PlayStation gamers (50%) than Xbox (17%), or even buying both again (33%).

PlayStation gamers have PLENTY of brand loyalty. But why?

5 Reasons for High PlayStation Brand Loyalty

  1. PlayStation’s commitment to affordability being cheaper than Xbox. The Xbox 360 required gamers to pay a subscription fee to play online and use apps like Netflix via Xbox Live. The PlayStation 3 online experience was completely free. While the PlayStation 4 will require a subscription, it’s still $10 cheaper than Xbox Live, $49.99 and $59.99 respectively. The lower overall cost of playing the PlayStation online is a major factor in high PlayStation brand loyalty and should continue to hold true, benefiting Sony in the battle between Xbox and PlayStation.
  2. Xbox came later on the scene. When the first Xbox came out, Sony had already been through an entire video game console life. The Xbox had to compete with the PlayStation 2. Some of the high PlayStation brand loyalty among gamers can be attributed to the simple fact that it came before the Xbox.
  3. Bad taste from the Xbox Red Ring of Death. While the Red Ring of Death was upsetting Xbox 360 gamers, PlayStation 3 gamers were seamlessly playing their favorite titles. And while Sony currently has a little death-light issue with less than 1% of PlayStation 4s, Xbox is still having their own problems. Those who were completely turned off by the Xbox 360s Red Ring of Death likely made the switch to the PlayStation.
  4. PlayStation’s attention to detail… literally. If you compare the new Call of Duty on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 you’ll notice the PlayStation 4 looks better. That’s because it plays games on full 1080p while the Xbox One does 720p. Sony has always been devoted to killer graphics and their fans love it, thus the high PlayStation brand loyalty!
  5. Can it be about the controller? If the visual gameplay is the canvas, the controller is the paint brush. Ask fans of either system and they will tell you that their system has the better controller. With a brand new touch pad on the PlayStation DualShock, Sony is looking to “control” an even larger portion of not-so-devoted Xbox gamers.

This is a huge win for Sony heading into one of the most competitive holiday seasons on memory. The PlayStation 4 debuted on November 15th and moved over 1 million units in its first weekend. The Xbox One debuted exactly one week later on November 22nd and achieved the same feat. There has been little doubt that these systems would be the hottest items of the 2013 Christmas season. It’s the future of video gaming that is uncertain. And since both consoles have similar new features and specs, Xbox or PlayStation brand loyalty could be a huge factor in deciding the Console King.

Check out this infographic from BluePromoCode and then head to the BluePromoCode blog to see more about their findings. Is PlayStation brand loyalty really twice as high as Xbox brand loyalty? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Xbox vs PlayStation Brand Loyalty
Click image to enlarge.

Win a PS4: The BluePromoCode PlayStation 4 Giveaway

BluePromoCode PlayStation 4 Giveaway

Less than a month after it’s release and the PlayStation 4 is proving to be as elusive as a unicorn! Stores are short on PS4 inventory and gamers are looking for this bad boy left and right. While unicorn supplies are unlikely to rebound in time for Christmas, it’s not completely ridiculous to think about finding a PlayStation 4 this holiday season. Even for free!

BluePromoCode, a leading online marketplace for coupons and promo codes, is giving away a brand new PlayStation 4 500GB in a limited time holiday giveaway right now. And it’s an easy one to enter: earn entries by liking on Facebook, tweeting on Twitter and +1ing on Google+. In total, there are 11 ways to earn entries and none of them involve donating a kidney. Lucky you!

The BluePromoCode PlayStation 4 Giveaway started on Wednesday, November 27th and will conclude on Wednesday, December 11th at exactly 12PM PST. The winner will be randomly selected and announced on Thursday, December 12th on the BluePromoCode Facebook page. Happy entering and good luck!